9 - How to set up a Product Organization?

Begin with four pillars: goals, structure, alignment, and measurement, then adapt each to your context.

Why It’s Important

Product organizations that are not clear on what they are trying to achieve, not structured in a way that facilitates movement towards the goal, not aligned on execution, or not measuring to validate progress are not likely to succeed.

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How to Use This Principle

First, articulate clear organizational goals. Ensure there is clear connectivity between organizational and team goals. Validate team structure against goals, company culture, and ability to execute across teams. Regularly align teams on where they are going and how they are going to get there. Measure frequently to validate progress towards your goals. 

Real-life application by Andrew Nguyen, Head of Product at BARK

At BARK, our goal is to make dogs happy. Leaders structure strategic pillars to rally the company around this mission and commit to fulfilling this goal in the short and long term. Product teams are assembled to find customer centric ways to support the strategic pillars. 

And when the structure is sound in your org, there is natural alignment. Going a step further, cross org and company alignment happen when other orgs are structured similarly. For example, our digital marketing teams have similar goals (if not the same) as digital product teams. Now, they’re tied to the hip and naturally supportive of each other, increasing their chances of success and compounded impact. It’s a beautiful thing when cross organizational alignment occurs, avoiding the tension and conflict of teams working in silos or worse, against each other. 

And lastly, measurement can be an art and a science. There are qualitative and quantitative aspects to consider, balancing out ambition (e.g. big hairy audacious goals) and team morale (what does it mean to fall short of the goal?). The art is in setting up your goals in a way that is challenging, yet obtainable, and defining the metrics that best represent progress. The science is in the measurement, ensuring the proper instrumentation and analysis. Good measurement leads to good learning. Good learning leads to good hypotheses and questions. Good questions lead to better answers and projects. And it all feeds into each other: well structured and aligned teams do measurement well. 

When everything comes together across the four pillars (goals, structure, alignment, measurement), you get goal crushing, championship winning teams. In my context, it’s not just the teams or the individuals inside that won, it’s also the organization working in tandem to help shape the winning environment.

How to set up a Product team?

Create a cross-functional team to focus on specific problems and enlist diverse perspectives that represent your users and stakeholders.

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Principle Ten - Product Manifesto


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